LOOKING at Danny Cullen (34), who is easily one of Donegal’s greatest ever hurlers, it is hard to believe that this is his 19th year lining out for Setanta and he has punched in 17 years for Donegal.
It is also hard to believe from his youthful mien that this is his fourth Ulster Club final.
Cullen, who made his debut for the club back in 2003 at the age of 15 lined out for Setanta in Ulster JHC finals in 2007 and 2008 but they lost out to Armoy of Antrim and Fermanagh’s Lisbellaw.
Danny and his comrades struck gold in 2017 when they beat Na Magha to take an historic Ulster title.
Now, Antrim side Shane O’Neill’s stand in their way of a second title and Cullen is well- aware of the threat the Saffron champions pose.
“I was in finals back in 2007 and 2008 and we lost to Armoy and Lisbellaw and they were tough games.
“This is my fourth Ulster final, so it was great to win in 2017, especially after losing those two finals in a row.
“There were five points in it at the end after we had a good start, but Na Magha came back well at us in the second half after us being nine points at one stage and we saw it out”.
Setanta have had two very searching tests already against Dungannon and Na Magha which is very good preparation for the battle with Shane O’Neill’s.
“Dungannon are a very good side, and we were lucky to beat them in the end, and Na Magha brought a huge challenge as well and they have some very good players, so we are just happy to have got through to the final”.
He added: “This is probably our best-balanced team of all and we have a good mix all over the field and on the bench and this team is going to try and take a step further.
“Shane O’Neill’s have a lot of quality and any team that comes through Antrim is going to be a big test for us. This is the big game for them, and they will be looking forward to it just as much as us.”
But Setanta have an extra weapon this year in the four young giants who give them a definite edge in the physical stakes.
Steven McBride, Oisin Marley, Josh Cronolly McGee and Sean Ward are still developing, but all four are imposing figures and well capable of winning dirty ball in wintry conditions.
“”Yes, they are all good hurlers as well and they are a fresh bunch coming into the team and are great assets and this time of the year should suit them a bit more.
“We also have smaller skilful lads like Ruairi Campbell, Dean Harvey, Gerry Gilmore and Barney Lafferty.
“And then we have Davin Flynn, who is a special player with all the skills and a great eye for a goal when it is needed.”
Cullen has not hurled against Shane O’Neill’s in a decade, but he is well aware of the threat they pose.
‘They will fancy their chances just as much as we do and hopefully it will be a good game.”
Cullen has given outstanding service to both club and county since making his debut at 15.
“I know no different as I enjoy it so much and I would love to get a few more years out of it as well.
“I am 34 now but I am glad to see these big young lads coming through and the more help we get the better.
“When it comes to the time when they are replacing us older boys, we will be happy to fade away.
“Hopefully that won’t be for another few years yet.”
Looking at Cullen it will not be for quite some time, for he is a rare and most modest talent.